Unemployment Rises Slightly to 9.6%

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The unemployment rate has risen slightly, according to new statistics released by the Labor Department on Friday.

The rate rose to 9.6%, up a tenth of a point from 9.5% rate posted in July as the country shed 54,000 jobs during August. The decline was primarily attributed to the completion of the Census, for which 114,000 temporary workers were hired. The number of temporary Census 2010 workers peaked in May at 564,000 but declined to 82,000 in August.

Additionally, the number of people employed part-time involuntary increased by 331,000 over the month to 8.9 million. According to the Labor Department, these individuals were working part-time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

It wasn’t all bad news, however. Similarly to the jobless claims numbers released yesterday, these newer stats are a mixed bag of positive and negative figures. For instance, employment continues to rise in the private-sector, where 67,000 jobs were added last month. Additionally, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) declined by 323,000 to 6.2 million during the month.

The average hourly earnings of all employees on private payrolls also increased by 6 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $22.66 in August.

"The jobs numbers were good, and measurably better than expected, but far from good enough. Mark Zandi, the chief economist for forecaster Moody's Analytics told The Miami Herald. "This is enough to ensure that the economy won't slide back into recession, but it is well short of the 150,000 per month needed to forestall further increases in unemployment."

The Labor Department also announced that the revised preliminary estimates for June and July showed that about 123,000 fewer jobs were lost over those months than originally had been projected.

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